It was a year ago today when Oxford was rocked by the devestating news that one of its own - a jovial young man with a lifetime ahead of him - had died in a car accident.
Fifteen-year-old Brandon Giordano's death marked the first time in the short history of Oxford High School that a student had died.
Giordano's mother, Angela Borrelli of Oxford, told the Republican-American of Waterbury: "It doesn’t feel like a year. It feels like yesterday. It’s been a struggle for my whole family.”
To remember Giordano, the Oxford community is holding a candlelight vigil at 10:45 tonight at Oxford High School, 61 Quaker Farms Road. Mourners will gather around the school's flagpole, as they did one year ago, to pray for Giordano and support one another.
Giordano was killed on March 9, 2012, when the driver of the of the car he was in, then-19-year-old Eric Ramirez, was ordered to pull over the side of the road by a Seymour police officer, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Ramirez didn't stop or slow down, according to the document on file at Derby Superior Court. He sped up while the officer chased him into Oxford on Route 67; the officer eventually broke off the pursuit, the report states.
Another teen, Dion Major, then 16, was in the car and told police that Martinez “passed cars driving in the same direction on the wrong side of the road and had to swerve back into the lane to avoid hitting cars head on. ...I would estimate Eric was driving between 70-80 mph.”
Ramirez’s 2000 Ford Mustang convertible reached 91 mph at one point during the chase, the report states. The Mustang struck an embankment on a turn on Old State Road No. 67 at a rate of 61 mph, twice the speed limit in that area, the affidavit staes. The car, carrying three teens, flew some 59 feet and hit a building head-on before landing upside down, trapping all three teens in the car and killing Giordano, the backseat passenger, on impact. There were no drugs or alcohol involved in the accident, according to the report; the boys were coming home from their favorite Chinese food restaurant in New Haven.
Ramirez, now 20, faces charges of misconduct with a motor vehicle, reckless driving, engaging police in pursuit and two driving infractions. He has entered a "pro-forma" not guilty plea, which is a plea that allows court procedings to move along while attorneys discuss a possible plea bargain agreement.
Ramirez appeared Friday (March 8) at Derby Superior Court, where the case is slowly making its way through the system. His attorney, Tara Knight of New Haven, said there is nothing new to report and that the case has been continued to April 25.
The Seymour Police Department has completed an internal affairs investigation into the actions of the officer, Anthony Renaldi, who attempted to pull over Ramirez and then chased him for at least a short distance. That report was supposed to have been completed months ago.
In the past two months, Oxford Patch has left several messages with the Seymour Police Department about what the internal affairs investigation had concluded. All of our calls have gone unanswered. On Thursday (March 7), Oxford Patch formally filed a request under state Freedom of Information laws to obtain a copy of the report and all other information about the case.
On Friday, Lt. Paul Satkowski, Seymour police public information officer, said he had received our request and that department officials were discussing with attorneys how much information they can reveal. He said the department, which is down administrators because of budget cuts, would be contacting us soon.
Renaldi is still working in his role as a patrol officer for the town of Seymour, Satkowski said.